The Chicago Blackhawks have officially re-signed one of their bottom six forwards. Unfortunately, we’re still waiting for the team to work out a deal with Marcus Kruger.
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Restricted free agent Joakim Nordstrom received a one-year deal from the Blackhawks today, although the deal’s dollar amount is not currently known. Regardless, it puts the Blackhawks even tighter against the salary cap (very likely over it at this point) and doesn’t change much with regard to getting Kruger re-signed.
Nordstrom, 23, played 41 games last season for Chicago, including three in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He didn’t score a goal and tallied three assists, all in the regular season, while finishing with a minus-8 rating overall. In 2013-14, Nordstrom played in 23 total games, tallying a goal and two assists with a minus-6 rating. Nordstrom was also the captain of Chicago’s AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, last season.
Nordstrom’s re-addition to the roster further muddies the bottom six situation for the Blackhawks. They also have Ryan Garbutt, Andrew Shaw, Corey Tropp, Jeremy Morin and Andrew Desjardins hanging around the bottom six, with Kruger still unsigned and guys like Bryan Bickell and Kris Versteeg also in the fold.
We should expect Nordstrom to see time with the team next season, although Stan Bowman could pull the same deal he did with Brandon Bollig in the past, i.e. signing him to a new deal and trading him a short time later. I still think Bickell is on his way out in a trade that could include some combination of Garbutt, Morin, Tropp and maybe even Shaw. The Blackhawks don’t need this many bottom-six guys sticking on the roster when they have an important center to re-sign in Kruger and younger guys like Mark McNeill waiting in the wings.
Nordstrom seems to be a favorite pet of coach Joel Quenneville because Nordstrom has some defensive responsibility. The Blackhawks are going to need more out of Nordstrom offensively, though, if he’s going to stick with this club. New additions like Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Viktor Tikhonov and Artemi Panarin will be expected to pick up the slack in the goal scoring department with the losses of Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad and Brad Richards, as well as the possibility of Patrick Kane not starting the season on the ice. But the Blackhawks under Q have never been a team that restricts its scoring to the top six. As such, Nordstrom’s six career points will need to jump in 2015-16.
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